Auk Land (New Zealand): New Zealand’s Auckland has become the first city in the world to welcome the New Year in 2024. The sky tower, the tallest building, the colorful sky emanating from downtown and the cheers of the people make it stand out.
The war situation in Ukraine and Gaza has dampened the celebratory mood and created tension in various cities. Security arrangements have been beefed up in many cities. Pre-New Year celebrations have been canceled in some places.
A digital display on Auckland’s 328-metre (1,706 ft) observation and communications tower heralded the new year for the city’s 1.7 million residents as light rain fell throughout Sunday before the countdown to the New Year began.
Two hours after the start of the New Year here, the Harbor Bridge in neighboring Australia’s Sydney will witness the well-known midnight fireworks and colorful light displays, officials said. Government officials say more police than ever have been deployed to ensure the safety of Sydney’s 1 million people to watch, with one in five of the city gathered near the harbor waterfront. It is noteworthy that following the attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel on October 7, supporters of Israel staged a protest at Sydney’s Opera House with the country’s flag. This has created tension in today’s celebration.
Meanwhile, during the traditional Sunday Benediction in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled 2023 as the year of wars. He prayed for the wounded Ukrainian people and the Israeli, Palestinian and Sudanese people. At the end of the year, how many people have the courage to ask ourselves how many human lives have been destroyed by armed struggle, how many people have died, how many people have suffered, how many people have been reduced to poverty, the Pope said. Those interested in these conflicts should listen to the voice of conscience, he said.
In the US, New York Times Square officials and event coordinators said they were ready to welcome thousands of visitors to Midtown Manhattan, the heart of the city. New York City’s mayor said there were no significant threats to the New Year’s Eve celebration.
In France, 90,000 police will be deployed on security duty, a local intelligence official said on Friday. And 6000 of them will be stationed in Paris. He said 1.5 million people are expected to attend the celebrations on the Champs-Elysees there.
New Year celebrations in Russia have been canceled due to the war with Ukraine. Fireworks at Senjathukka Maidan, which are usually held during the New Year celebrations, have also been cancelled. Similarly, the government has banned all New Year celebrations in Muslim-majority Pakistan as part of the Palestinians’ mourning.